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- Start of Business
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES BILL 2009
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES (MEDICARE LEVY SURCHARGE) BILL 2009
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES (MEDICARE LEVY SURCHARGE—FRINGE BENEFITS) BILL 2009
- FAIR WORK (STATE REFERRAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL AND OTHER AMENDMENTS) BILL 2009
- GUARANTEE OF STATE AND TERRITORY BORROWING APPROPRIATION BILL 2009
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 BUDGET MEASURES NO. 1) BILL 2009
- COORDINATOR-GENERAL FOR REMOTE INDIGENOUS SERVICES BILL 2009
- SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (IMPROVED SUPPORT FOR CARERS) (CONSEQUENTIAL AND TRANSITIONAL) BILL 2009
- MIGRATION AMENDMENT (PROTECTION OF IDENTIFYING INFORMATION) BILL 2009
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES NO. 2) BILL 2009
- FINANCIAL SECTOR LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ENHANCING SUPERVISION AND ENFORCEMENT) BILL 2009
- HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (VET FEE-HELP AND PROVIDERS) BILL 2009
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- PRIME MINISTER AND TREASURER
- AUNG SAN SUU KYI
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA BILL 2009
- THERAPEUTIC GOODS AMENDMENT (MEDICAL DEVICES AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2008 
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES NO. 3) BILL 2009
- HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (VET FEE-HELP AND PROVIDERS) BILL 2009
- CAR DEALERSHIP FINANCING GUARANTEE APPROPRIATION BILL 2009
- Start of Business
- Sir Donald Eckersley
- Bennelong Electorate: Consumer Confidence
- Tangney Electorate: Internet Access
- Deakin Electorate: Ringwood Soccer and Multipurpose Sports Pavilion
- Indi Electorate: General Practice
- Dobell Electorate: Proposed Coalmine
- Swan Electorate: Belmont Medicare Office
- Forde Electorate: Rivermount College
- Workplace Relations
- Sri Lanka
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 1) 2009-2010
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 2) 2009-2010
APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL (NO. 1) 2009-2010
- Baldwin, Robert, MP
- Bevis, Arch, MP
- Jensen, Dennis, MP
- Rishworth, Amanda, MP
- Secker, Patrick, MP
- Sullivan, Jon, MP
- Simpkins, Luke, MP
- Livermore, Kirsten, MP
- Stone, Dr Sharman, MP
- Jackson, Sharryn, MP
- Moylan, Judi, MP
- Bradbury, David, MP
- Schultz, Alby, MP
- Parke, Melissa, MP
- Pyne, Chris, MP
- Sidebottom, Sid, MP
- Southcott, Dr Andrew, MP
- Marles, Richard, MP
- Second Reading
- QUESTIONS IN WRITING
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Ms LIVERMORE (4:00 PM) —I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2009-2010 and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2009-2010. As we have heard, a theme running right throughout this discussion on the budget is that this budget has been delivered during the greatest economic challenge that we have seen in our lifetime. It is a budget with good news for Australian communities, but it also contains the tough decisions that will ensure we are prepared for, and ready to take advantage of, the economic recovery. That is why I am pleased to join with my colleagues in supporting the bills and commending them to the House.
This budget is all about supporting jobs. It is about building productivity into our economy and building the infrastructure that we need for the future, whether that be in the form of broadband, roads, railways or ports. The budget builds on the education revolution, delivers for pensioners and carers, provides a tax break for small business and continues to support first home owners to get a leg-up into the housing market. It delivers on research, health and innovation and it ensures funding for our defence forces. And I am pleased and proud to say that it also paves the way for paid parental leave.
Turning firstly to health, there is no question that this budget delivers on health. That is certainly the case in Central Queensland, where the budget is providing major upgrades to the Rockhampton Base Hospital and a new medical centre for the town of Nebo. That is just a small snapshot of what is happening in the Capricornia electorate, and that is what is happening right around the country because similar boosts to health services right across Australia are provided for in the budget. All-up, this government is committing $20 billion to improve hospitals across Australia. That is against a history of the previous federal government in this country not playing its part and withdrawing money from those important public hospital services. This is a key part of the government’s reform agenda to equip our hospitals for the future, and we are making good on that commitment in this budget.
It is important to note that our commitment is not only about bricks, mortar and more beds, as important as those are. It is also about the people who work in our health system. We are tackling the rural and remote workforce challenge in the health industry. The government has pledged $134.4 million in a package that will re-target incentives to ensure that health professionals will receive a greater reward for travelling to work in more remote regions. There are plenty of these small rural communities in the Capricornia electorate and Central Queensland, so I look forward to seeing the benefits of this program in those communities that I represent.
Under the reforms, almost 500 communities around Australia will become eligible for rural incentive payments for the first time, and Rockhampton is one of those. This is a program that has been welcomed by a range of groups, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. They had this to say about the program:
These increases in funding are welcome given the difficult economic climate in which this budget has been delivered.
… … …
We believe that the enhancements around support and training for locum relief will have a positive impact on the retention of rural GPs. The extension of the Training for Rural and Remote Procedural GPs program is a positive example of utilising existing and well evaluated resources.
Other lobby groups, such as the National Farmers Federation and AgForce, have also welcomed the funding for rural doctors in the budget.
Just last week I toured the construction activity at the Rockhampton Base Hospital with the health minister, Nicola Roxon. She wanted to see for herself what the $76 million that was committed for an upgrade of the Rockhampton hospital is going to mean for not just the infrastructure there but the services that the hospital can deliver. Current construction work is already happening thanks to a $70 million-plus investment that is being made by the state government, and I am pleased to say that that investment by the state government includes a building to house the MRI machine. The MRI machine will be operated by Queensland Health, but the Medicare licence for that MRI machine is something that this government committed to providing in the 2007 election. It is something that we have fought long and hard for in Rockhampton at both the state and Commonwealth levels. We were ignored by the previous government but I am pleased to say that that MRI machine and the funding that the Commonwealth government is attaching to it through the Medicare licence are very close to becoming realities. People in Rockhampton and surrounding communities will be able to have that MRI service at the Rockhampton Base Hospital. Currently there is a part-time machine operating in the private sector, so the MRI machine at the base hospital will be an important addition to health services in Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
It appears that the $76 million that the federal government is committing for expanding and improving services there will actually piggyback onto or dovetail with the current building program that is underway courtesy of the state government. The site is a hive of activity with cranes, bulldozers, trucks and tradesmen all working hard to deliver these infrastructure improvements, which will then in turn allow for improved and expanded health services out of the Rocky base hospital. To be there on site and to see this work really brought home to me what this government is about and what this budget is about—building infrastructure for the future, but right now creating jobs for Australians and creating jobs for people in my electorate. The director of Queensland Health in our region, Dr Coralee Barker, said to me that when the federal part of that investment kicks in there will be upwards of 200 people working on that building site. That is great news for people employed in those trades and associated supply industries, and good news for those people who might be finding themselves displaced from other sectors of the economy at this time.
That is what was happening at the Rockhampton Base Hospital last week. Right before our eyes we could see that theme of the budget playing out—jobs for today and infrastructure for the future. Of course, that is what will be happening at about 35,000 construction sites across the country funded through our budget and stimulus packages. As I said, the federal component of the work at the Rockhampton hospital will kick off later this year, piggybacking onto the work that the state government has funded. It will equip the hospital with two new operating theatres, two procedure rooms and a recovery area, an additional 30 inpatient beds, two linear accelerator spaces in anticipation of a future radiation oncology service, and additional clinical education and research space.
When I was talking to Dr Barker last week she confirmed what that additional clinical education and research space would mean. Currently in Rockhampton we have a rural clinical training school, which was provided by the former government. I was very pleased to welcome that program in Rockhampton, probably getting on for 10 years ago now. It has seen medical students coming up in large numbers to complete their undergraduate training in Rockhampton, and many of them have continued on after graduation to become junior doctors in our hospital. What has been happening is that after their first one or two years post graduation, they are finding that they do have to then head back south to undertake specialty training. So we are getting the doctors out of the rural clinical training school but there is in effect a glass ceiling at about that two-year post-graduation level, when they have to go off to pursue further specialist trading. These extra facilities should help address that in a small way. We hope to see doctors being able to really pursue their careers from start to finish in Rockhampton. It is clear that there will be benefits for patients through these extra services and increased capacity for training doctors in Rockhampton.
The mining community of Nebo, which is at the other end of my electorate west of Mackay, will receive $450,000 to build a new medical centre. It will be a modern and well equipped walk-in, walk-out health service. It is expected that construction will begin later this year. I want to pay tribute to the community and the local government that represents Nebo. They have worked really hard to put that facility on the agenda and chase the funding to make it a reality.
Another service in our community that will be improved thanks to this budget is the Bureau of Meteorology. Weather services right across the country will receive a boost, especially in rural and regional areas like the one I represent. In Capricornia weather services at Clermont, Collinsville, Moranbah, Rockhampton, St Lawrence and Yeppoon will receive next-generation weather forecasting and warning systems. This will expand their service to seven-day forecasting. This will mean greater and more reliable information for the people who live there. All this information will be available through interactive maps on the bureau’s very popular website.
For farmers and fishermen this information is not only useful; it is critical. It will equip them with the latest weather forecasts as they make decisions about getting out on the water or planting crops. You cannot overestimate the importance of that in making the pretty big dollar decisions that those primary producers have to make. Australia is a big place and needs reliable weather data, as we have seen demonstrated very clearly in the member for Fadden’s electorate with the extreme rainfall and storms just last week. Thanks to the $78.5 million boost in this budget for the Bureau of Meteorology, weather services will be improved in rural and regional areas.
This budget has also honoured our commitment to pensioners. The government has been committed to getting these reforms right. That is why we commissioned the Harmer review into pensions and that is why we have taken action in this budget. Single pensioners on the full rate will receive an additional $32.49 per week and couples on the full rate will receive an additional $10.14 combined per week. Pensioner payments will be simpler, fairer and more flexible as a result of the reforms contained in the budget.
Those payments incorporate an increase to the base pension level and also an increase to the new pension supplement, which incorporates several existing supplements into one supplement. The supplement will initially be provided fortnightly, and from July 2010 pensioners will be able to choose to take around half the new supplement in quarterly instalments. It came out clearly in consultations undertaken around the country as part of the Harmer review that pensioners wanted to have the flexibility to choose between regular payments and larger lump sums. This will give pensioners more flexibility over the way they receive payments and greater choice and capacity to manage their finances. The pension supplement will be indexed twice a year by movements in the consumer price index in March and September, at the same time as regular indexation of the base pension.
Another area I was very pleased to see addressed in this budget is higher education. Of course, the government came into office with a promise to deliver a much-needed education revolution in this country. We have seen that delivered in both the primary and secondary sectors. In the budget this time it was the turn of the tertiary sector, universities and the VET sector. This was in response to the reforms called for through the Cutler and Bradley reviews into innovation and education.
These reforms include a move to a student centred system underpinned by a national regulatory and quality agency which will enable an extra 50,000 new students to commence a degree by 2013; substantial resources to promote equity and performance funding tied to quality; a landmark increase to university indexation; a phased move to addressing the gap in funding for the indirect costs of research; major reform to student income support, to better support our most needy students; and an increase to postgraduate stipends. They also include major investment in higher education, research and VET infrastructure, through the Education Investment Fund totalling $3 billion; and additional recurrent funding of $2.1 billion over the forward estimates for higher education teaching, learning and research.
I will take the opportunity in this speech to welcome the announcement in the last couple of weeks of the new Vice-Chancellor of CQUniversity Australia, which has its headquarters, I guess you could say, or its main campus in the city of Rockhampton. We will be welcoming Professor Scott Bowman to our city and to the university. I look forward to working with him to build on the strengths of CQUniversity Australia and to make sure that it continues to play that very important role that it has traditionally played in providing opportunities for people in Central Queensland, for doing research and extension work, working with our local industries and generally adding great value to our communities and to our industries in Central Queensland. So congratulations go to Professor Bowman for being selected to take up that position, and I am looking forward to working with him. I know he has a great track record at James Cook University. I know he will have a lot of ideas for meeting the challenges that face CQUniversity Australia and also making the most of the opportunities that are presented in this reform package, which has been backed with significant funding in the budget this year.
I also want to talk about the first home owners boost. The boost to the First Home Owners Grants scheme has been widely welcomed since we introduced it in October last year. Since then, and up to the end of March, it has helped 59,000 first home buyers get a leg-up into the market. Real estate agents in Central Queensland have welcomed the boost, and with so many ‘sold’ signs on houses for sale it is easy to understand why. A major reason for increasing the boost was very much to generate and support construction activity in the housing sector, which is so important to creating jobs, not just in the building industry but also in all of the supporting industries, whether they be whitegoods, cabinetmaking or carpet stores, involved in the fitting out of new houses.
We have now announced that we are going to extend the boost as it stands until 30 September, and then phase it out responsibly through the remaining months of 2009. So, until 30 September, first home buyers hunting for an existing home will receive $14,000 towards that home and $21,000 if they choose to build a new home. That will taper down towards the end of the year.
One thing that I used to spend a lot of time talking about under the previous government—and I am very pleased to say that I am talking about it in a different light these days—is broadband. We made that commitment to the Australian people, going into the 2007 election, that we would build a national broadband network to deliver high-speed internet access to Australians wherever they live in this country. This budget reaffirms the commitment to developing a national broadband network, providing superfast broadband across the country. The company established by the government will invest up to $43 billion over eight years to build the network, and significant private sector investment is also anticipated. The government is making an initial investment in the network of $4.7 billion.
There has been a change to the way that we want to roll out the network. We now want to achieve 90 per cent fibre-to-the-premises coverage to deliver speeds of up to 100 megabits per second to consumers. The remaining coverage is to be provided through state-of-the-art wireless and satellite technologies, offering speeds of 12 megabits per second or more. I know that will be welcome throughout my community. We have been waiting far too long to have the technology you need to survive and prosper in the 21st century. I was very pleased to return to my electorate to tell them what we will be gaining out of this budget. Rest assured that the government will continue to support jobs and to bring the budget back to surplus when the economy recovers, as we expect it to. (Time expired)